Did I Get Bit by a Spider?
Bites from different bugs and spiders have different looks and feelings. Some spider bites may feel similar to a bug bite or sting with a pinching or stinging feeling. To tell the difference between a spider bite versus a bed bug or another insect’s sting or bite, it’s important to know some basics:
- Certain bees leave behind a stinger, or you’ll notice a small pinprick-like mark.
- Bed bugs bite exposed skin, often creating several red, itchy bumps.
- Mosquito bites vary depending on your reaction and allergies, but they often appear as red, itchy bumps.
- Fire ants create stings with pus-filled, itchy and painful lesions.
- Scorpions cause painful and swollen bites that require medical attention.
If you notice the bite right when it happens, you may be able to find what bit or stung you. Some insects and spiders are harmless, but if it was a spider, try to catch it safely or take a photo. You can use the internet to discover what kind of spider bit you or consult an expert. If you did not see the insect or spider that bit you, you might be able to identify it based on the appearance of the bite. For a spider bite, look for general signs like:
- Redness or a rash
- Pain around the bite
- Skin damage, such as fang marks
- Muscle cramping
- High blood pressure
These symptoms vary depending on what spider bit you and whether you have an allergic reaction. Consult pictures of common spider bites to help you identify what type of spider has bitten you.
Hobo Spider Bite Symptoms
These creatures have brown legs and a black and yellow patterned body. Because of their coloring, hobo spiders are often mistaken for the brown recluse, but these spiders can be anywhere around half an inch long while the brown recluse is slightly larger.
A hobo spider is, for the most part, harmless. A couple of decades ago, these spiders were thought to be venomous, with some rare cases of injury and death to cells in the body. Research has revealed, though, that you’re most likely to experience:
- Some redness
- Mild pain
- Possible swelling
If you have an allergic or more severe reaction, you may notice blistering or other symptoms. You should seek medical attention if your symptoms are more severe than some redness and mild swelling, even if you know it was a hobo spider that bit you.
You’ll find hobo spiders mostly in the Pacific Northwest, hiding in places like piles of wood or stones. These spiders rarely exist outside of that corner of the United States, so if you live somewhere else and have a bite with similar symptoms, it could be from something else.
Black Widow Spider Bite Symptoms
Seek medical attention right away if you believe a black widow spider has bitten you. A black widow spider has an hourglass shape on the underside that’s either red, orange or yellow in females. Males are smaller with a white underside and red spots instead of the recognizable hourglass shape.
You likely live in a region where black widow spiders live if you are somewhere that doesn’t experience extreme colds. Black widow spiders live throughout North America, especially in the Southern and Western United States. You’ll find these spiders hidden in areas where they can’t be disturbed, like under rocks or in garages and barns in unused corners. Unless you disturb or provoke the spider, it isn’t likely to bite you, but you should still exercise caution if you come across a black widow spider.
If you did not see the spider but experience the symptoms or match your bite with that on a spider bite identification chart, you likely have a black widow spider bite. A bite from a black widow can vary in appearance depending on how severe your reaction is, but in general, you may notice the following appearance and symptoms at the site:
- Two fang marks
Most of those reactions are common for a spider bite, but visible fang marks are more characteristic of a black widow spider bite. Your reaction to the bite is also an indication of the type of spider bite you have. A black widow spider’s bite mainly impacts the nervous system, which shows in its symptoms. Soon after you’ve been bitten, you could experience these black widow spider bite symptoms:
- Muscle cramps
- Stomach cramps
- A rise in blood pressure
These symptoms vary from person to person. Even if yours are on the mild side, be sure to seek medical attention to prevent any of the extreme symptoms from happening.
Brown Recluse Spider Bite Symptoms
The color of a brown recluse spider ranges from a yellow-tan color to a dark brown. They also have a toxic bite. Remember that a brown recluse spider is larger than the hobo spider, and can be about an inch long. While brown recluse spider bites are dangerous, you may not notice the bite right away. The bite from a brown recluse spider often has these characteristics:
- The skin around the bite is red at first.
- The area turns white and could blister.
- Over time, the bite will become more painful.
- In some cases, an ulcer forms around the bite.
Some experience nausea, fever and chills, weakness or joint pain with brown recluse spider bites, but even without those symptoms, you should see a doctor right away. In some uncommon cases, brown recluse spider bites have been known to cause seizures, a coma or be fatal, but a visit with a medical professional can help determine what bit you and a course of action.
The brown recluse spider is common in Midwestern and Southern states and does its best to stay away from people, but you could still encounter it. The brown recluse is often found in dark areas like attics and closets. If you do see a brown recluse spider, know that it won’t go after you unless it feels provoked or unsafe, but you should still take action. Contact an exterminator if you have concerns that this toxic spider has infested your home.
Wolf Spider Bite Symptoms
Wolf spiders are large and look quite intimidating, with many mistaking them for tarantulas. They can be a few inches long and usually have a brown or gray color. Despite its size and appearance, a wolf spider is generally harmless. The symptoms of a wolf spider bite are what you’d see from other spiders — pain, redness and swelling.
Because of the spider’s fangs, you may notice tearing around the area of the bite. That may then develop into swelling, particularly in the lymph nodes. Your symptoms should go away within 10 days if you keep the bite clean and ice it to reduce swelling. If you experience any symptoms other than a bit of swelling and pain, be sure to get medical help.
These spiders live in most areas of the world, but will only go inside your home if they need shelter from cold or rainy weather. Wolf spiders do not make webs, and instead, they often make their homes in sand or gravel outside. You’re likely to see more of these spiders in June and July since that’s when their eggs hatch. Unless a wolf spider is trapped next to your skin, it’s not likely to bite you.
Banana Spider Bite Symptoms
Like most other spiders, the banana spider is not venomous. With a banana spider bite, your only concern is if you have an allergic reaction, which can cause hives, swelling and breathing problems. If you are bitten, you’re most likely to experience some discomfort, but nothing too painful. Some even say a bite from a banana spider is less painful than a bee sting.
You can recognize this spider based on its color — which, given its name — is unsurprisingly yellow. The female banana spider has this characteristic color with brown and orange legs and can be anywhere from one to three inches long. A male banana spider is dark brown and much shorter — not even half an inch long.
You’re also only likely to get a banana spider bite if you provoke it, such as by holding it. Like other spiders, the banana spider delivers a bite that comes with some pain, redness and possibly some blistering. Keep the area clean and iced, and if it doesn’t improve within a few days, see a doctor. If someone has been bitten by a banana spider and has an allergic reaction, take them to get medical treatment right away.
If you live up north or in colder climates, you don’t have much to worry about when it comes to the banana spider. This spider prefers warmer weather, meaning you’ll find it in the Southern and Western states.
Treating a Spider Bite
Your first course of action for treating a spider bite is to identify what bit you. Once you know what spider bit you, you’ll either have peace of mind knowing that what bit you isn’t venomous or you’ll know what to tell a doctor when you go to the hospital. If you notice immediate symptoms, seek medical help right away rather than identifying the spider because you may have an allergic reaction to the bite.
Immediately after you notice the bite — and if you don’t require emergency medical attention — take these steps to help prevent infection and further swelling:
- Wash the area to prevent infection.
- Use a cold compress or wrapped ice pack to reduce swelling.
- Avoid scratching the bite.
- Take an over-the-counter pain killer or an antihistamine to reduce swelling.
- Use an antihistamine cream or lotion.
- Elevate the area where the bite is, particularly if it’s your arm or leg.
If you know for a fact that the spider that bit you is not dangerous, the steps above should be enough to help the bite heal without getting infected. Just be sure any antibiotic or antihistamine lotions you apply can be used with any pain killers or medication you take. With proper care, most bites will improve in a few days, but if yours doesn’t, see a doctor.
As is the case with many insect bites, if a child, pregnant individual, older person or someone with a compromised immune system is bitten, they could be more at risk for severe symptoms and reactions. If you or the person experiencing a bite falls into any of those categories, be sure to seek immediate medical attention.
Remember that knowing or bringing the type of spider that bit you — well-contained, of course — will make treatment easier. If you live in an area where spider bites are common, local medical professionals are likely knowledgeable about different types of spider bites and treatment options.
To avoid future bites, be sure to hire an exterminator to address the issue, especially if you believe the spiders around your home or business are venomous.
Contact Spectrum Pest Control for Exterminator Services
If you or a family member has had a run-in with spider bites, the best way to prevent future bites is with an exterminator. At Spectrum Pest Control, our team of certified professionals can help take care of the problem. We provide pest control throughout Western Pennsylvania and Ohio to put your mind at ease and eliminate dangerous pests.